NBA betting: Playoff picks for Thursday night
Chris Sheridan makes his picks for Thursday's tripleheader in the NBA playoffs, with 12 bets across three huge Game 6s.
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We are rid of the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Nuggets, and we may be able to say the same thing late tonight about the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz.
As an NBA fan, the thought is "I hope not," because if the three teams trailing 3-2 manage to even their series at 3-3 tonight, it sets up three Game 7s on Saturday night, which would be the ultimate tripleheader.
But we have to get there first, and it is incumbent upon the three teams with lower seeds to play their absolute best games in order for Saturday to be an extra special day of Game 7s instead of a blah day of Game 1s. Whatever the case, it is one of the last multi-NBA parlays we are going to be able to tout before the wagering opportunities in the NBA become much more single- and double game-based.
So let’s get right to it, because this is a particularly special Thursday on NBA-TV and TNT.
Philadelphia (-1.5) at Toronto: The Sixers got booed off the court by their own fans after Game 5, and Doc Rivers spent Wednesday explaining to reporters the intricate details of his 3-1 defeat collapses with the 2003 Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015 and 2020. Could there be a fourth? Well, if there is, the Raptors will likely have to do it without Fred Van Vleet, who is doubtful with a left hip flexor strain. That was not a problem in Game 5 as Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes stepped into the starting lineup and played 41 solid minutes, riding the coattails of Pascal Siakam (23 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists). But in order for the Raptors to repeat their Game 5 success, they are likely going to need someone new to step up, and picking out that guy is challenge No. 1 for every gambler who plays this game.
The Raptor who is most overdue for something terrific is Gary Trent Jr. who had a streak of five straight 30-plus point games in late January and early February. He has scored 9, 0, 24, 24 and 16 points in the first five games, which will not earn him the Mr. Consistency award. But coach Nick Nurse has used him for 45, 39 and 39 minutes in the past three games, so the court time opportunity will be there. We like Trent Jr. to go over 2.5 3-pointers made (-135) and for Barnes to go over 13.5 points (-110). We also like ex-Raptor Danny Green to go over 8.5 points (-115) for Philly as he again fills in for Matisse Thybulle and is coming off a game in which he hit four 3-pointers.
The Sixers’ stars are a tougher call because one has a bad thumb (Joel Embiid) and another, James Harden, had more turnovers (5) than buckets (4) in Game 5. Harden’s postseason scoring average is all the way down to 18.4 as he continues to struggle to mesh with his new teammates, but we do not expect that to last. So we like him going over 2.5 3-pointers made (+140). One last play is Tyrese Maxey under 18.5 points (-115) because his production has cratered, dropping from 38, 23 and 19 points in the first three games to 11 points in Game 4 and 12 points in Game 5.
The under has hit in the past four games and has been lowered to 210.5, which is a tricky play. The Raptors have shown a ton of grit and determination, but history is not on their side.
Phoenix (-2) at New Orleans: The Suns took control early in Game 5 and never let the Pelicans get within striking distance, making that game the polar opposite of Game 4, which was played in New Orleans, the site of tonight’s game. The big question is whether Devin Booker will play, something that is driving the Twittersphere crazy after he participated in light shooting drills at a practice Wednesday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had a hedge special in reporting that Booker could “possibly” return for Game 6 or Game 7. This morning, the Suns listed Booker as “out.”
Trying to figure out the status of injured players for playoff games is one of the trickiest things about playoff handicapping. Yesterday the Bulls lost Zack LaVine to health and safety protocols, and the word did not come out until about two hours before tipoff, making the line swing at least 3 points. Keep an eye out for similar with Booker, who the Suns would prefer to rest but would probably have to be active if NOLA forces a Game 7.
The Pelicans’ wins in this series have come by 11 points on the road and by 15 at home, and neither team has been able to string together consecutive victories. So we are counseling y’all to take the 2.5 points (+110) because we are expecting the Pels to keep this one close right until the end at the very least.
Their lack of collective playoff experience may ultimately be the thing that dooms them, but they have had some success limiting Chris Paul for brief stretches when defender extraordinaire Jose Alvarado has been on the court. Paul is coming off a 22-point, 11-assist game in which he committed only one turnover, and Mikal Bridges was the Suns’ leading scorer with 31 points and best defender with four blocks. No reason to think he will regress, so one pick is Bridges over anything in the 16.5-17.5 range once his line is posted later today. We also like C.J. McCollum to go over 5.5 rebounds (+120) and 0.5 blocks, the latter carrying a nice parlay booster line of +145.
Dallas (+1) at Utah: The Mavs were in total control in Game 5 in winning by 25 and moving within one victory of moving on, but closing out an opponent on the road (and at altitude) is never easy, hence the line favoring Utah by a single point.
This much is certain: Somebody other than Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson needs to show up bigtime for the Jazz, and tonight may be the night when we finally see Quin Snyder shorten his rotation and go with Mike Conley (9 points in Game 5) and Bojan Bogdanovic (0-for-9 in Game 5) a whole lot less, especially if they fall into an early hole as they did in Game 5 when they trailed by 6 after one quarter, by 16 after two quarters and by 26 after three quarters.
Much of the attention will be on Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson for obvious reasons, but do not forget that Dorian Finney-Smith has been an ironman, and Reggie Bullock’s defense is one of the primary reasons for Bogdanovic shooting just 4-for-19 in the last two games after going 28-for-47 in the first three games. We like Doncic over 31.5 points (-110) and over 9.5 rebounds (+115), Gobert under 14.5 rebounds (-120) and Mitchell to go over 25.5 points (-110). The under has hit in three of five games and has dropped by 3 points tonight to 209.5, which we counsel staying away from. The Mavs are clearly the better team, but the Jazz have their backs against the wall and should rise to the occasion, and it would not be surprising to see this one be a single-possession game in the final minute.